Author photo. Photographie du Professeur Leo Strauss

Photographie du Professeur Leo Strauss

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Leo Strauss was born in a small rural town in Germany and raised in an orthodox Jewish home. He attended a gymnasium in nearby Marburg and then the University of Marburg. At age 17, he joined the German Zionist movement, in which he met many intellectuals and writers, including Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin. He received his doctorate from the University of Hamburg in 1921. In 1923, he began lecturing in Frankfurt under the auspices of a center for adult education. He published his first book, "Spinoza's Critique of Religion," in 1930, but found himself without a job a couple of years later. He won a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation to begin work in France on a study of the philosopher Hobbes. In Paris, he married Marie (Miriam) Bernsohn and later adopted his wife's son. The following year, he received an extension on his Rockefeller grant to work in London and Cambridge on his book on Hobbes. Unable to obtain permanent employment in England, Prof. Strauss emigrated to the USA in 1937. After a short stint as research fellow in the Department of History at Columbia University, Prof. Strauss held a faculty position at The New School from 1938 to 1948. He became a U.S. citizen in 1944, and in 1949 he became professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he held the Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professorship until 1969. There he taught several generations of students and published 15 books. After retiring from the University of Chicago in 1969, Prof. Strauss moved to Claremont McKenna College in California for a year, and then to St. John's College in Annapolis, where he served as Scott Buchanan Distinguished Scholar in Residence until his death. Prof. Strauss's body of work spanned ancient, medieval and modern political philosophy. He wrote mainly as a historian of philosophy and most of his writings take the form of commentaries on important thinkers and their writings.
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